Filing a Lawsuit for a Medication Error

Medical malpractice with medication

Last Updated on June 14, 2021 by Legal Team

When medication makes things worse

Medications are supposed to help us feel better or prevent our health from deteriorating further. But sometimes, these treatments end up doing the exact opposite. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives more than 100,000 reports annually of alleged medication errors.

Medication errors may lead to hospitalization or disability, cause a birth defect (when to-be mothers are patients), or may also be life-threatening. It is estimated that medication errors are responsible for the death of 7,000 to 9,000 people annually in the US alone.

One recent instance is the death of a person from Gwynn Oak who was given a drug that damaged his colon, leading to his death. A Baltimore jury found the University of Maryland Center responsible for his death and awarded the man’s family $10 million as compensation.

The FDA receives more than 100,000 reports annually of alleged medication errors.

What does a ‘medication error’ mean?

The National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention defines a ‘medication error’ as any preventable event that causes or leads to inappropriate medication use or harms the patient (while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional or patient).

How do medication errors happen?

Medication errors cannot be traced to a single source and can happen throughout the process of drug selection and dispensation. 

Some reasons include the following:

  1. Prescribing the wrong dosage
  2. Providing incorrect instructions for taking the medication (like period, dosage, strength)
  3. Improperly administering medicines (e.g., nurses giving the wrong medication to patients)
  4. Prescribing medication that interacts adversely with other medications used by the patient or that harms the patient given their pre-existing allergies or underlying medical condition, etc.
  5. Illegible handwriting and mistakes in transcription

Proving a wrong medication lawsuit

Proving a case of wrongful medication requires being able to prove four key components: 

  1. There was a duty of care between the healthcare professional and the patient
  2. The said duty of care was breached by the professional
  3. The breach caused harm to the patient 
  4. The harm was directly caused on account of the breach. 

Adverse effects that arise from medication generally won’t be held liable unless the above conditions are met. However, there are exceptions to every rule. Consult a medical malpractice attorney to find out whether your claim is viable. 

How to avoid being a victim of a medication error

The patient must try to communicate freely and openly with the doctor and ask any questions they may have relating to the medication. Furthermore, to avoid falling victim to incorrect medication, a patient should inform the doctor of any medicines they are currently taking, allergies they suffer from, other pre-existing ailments, etc.

Other things to keep in mind

If you think you have been a victim of wrongful medication, make sure to record all the relevant details of your case, especially the specifics of the harm caused, such as hospital bills and records, photos, documents relating to the loss of income due to absence from work, etc.

Medication error cases are complicated

Both federal regulations and state laws govern medicine R&D and use. Additionally, states have different laws governing the limitation period (statute of limitations), compensation caps, and more. As such, consulting a legal professional would be a good idea to evaluate whether you have a case worth pursuing and what the appropriate legal strategy should be.

Medical Malpractice FAQ 3

Finding the right medication error lawyer

A key aspect in receiving compensation in any personal injury lawsuit is choosing a well-equipped and experienced attorney. Thankfully, there are many medical malpractice attorneys that can represent you. They understand the dynamics of these types of cases and will be able to walk you through each step of the process.

Medications are a necessary part of our well-being. The vast majority of the time, these drugs help us live our lives to their fullest. However, in case of a medication mistake or other medical malpractice, make sure to be compensated appropriately.

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